In your steadfast search for the hottest new restaurants, it might not cross your mind to visit a garden center. But that's where the latest dining news comes from. North Haven Gardens, one of Dallas' best-known garden shops, is launching two offshoots that go beyond potted plants.
North Haven quietly opened an art gallery in December 2014; in February, it will add a cafe that serves lunch. General manager Cody Hoya says the new ventures reflect the interests of the Pinkus family, whose patriarch Ralph Pinkus founded the shop in 1951.
They began with the gallery, which took over an adjoining space previously occupied by Valley Crest landscaping.
"We'd thought about doing this casually and were able to do the gallery once the space became available," Hoya says. "The cafe is going to be immediately adjacent to gallery. We hope it will be a great destination for those who want to come and stroll through the store and maybe have a bite."
They haven't decided if they'll name the cafe, beyond calling it The Cafe at North Haven Gardens, just as for now the gallery is The Gallery at North Haven Gardens, where they host monthly wine-and-cheese events. "We host an opening and a closing reception with the artist, where anyone can come and go, even in your garden pants and boots," Hoya says.
He and senior buyer Sandi Holmes-Schwedler serve as co-curators at the gallery with a theme that, not surprisingly, honors Mother Nature.
"The goal is that works in gallery represent an appreciation for nature or gardening, through subject, media, composition, or function," Hoya says. That could be a ceramic artist who makes "bird bottles" or an artist who paints his works from the perspective of an insect.
As for the cafe, they've hired a food service manager and retained a chef, as of now unnamed, to consult on the creation of a menu. "It's someone who's been in the scene for a long time, but is functioning more as a behind-the-scenes person," Hoya says. Such a tease.
Many of the details are still in the planning phase, but they do have a general vision.
"It'll be a casual menu, more of a lunchy-brunchy deal, with midday hours," he says. "The menu will be seasonally inspired, and we will do some cross-programming, such as growing your own food, attending a class, then enjoying the actual food in the cafe.
"There are numerous opportunities for connecting the dots."